Would you like to take a break from Finland this summer? Yes, it is true that some polls say this is the best country in the world, and Finnish summer is beautiful. But even so, would you like to go abroad and rest somewhere else?
If the answer is affirmative, you may be thinking now that you have neither the time nor enough money for a great vacation. That is not a problem, since there are some very attractive destinations, which are easy to reach from this part of the world and cheap enough for all budgets.
Below you will find five destinations we have selected for you, tips to enjoy them and the reasons why it is a good idea to visit them this summer. So, if you need to break the routine and breathe different air for a few days, you have no excuse.
Just an hour's flight away from Helsinki you can find the green and beautiful capital of Latvia, Riga. With almost 700,000 inhabitants, Riga is the largest city in the three Baltic states.
Around 46% of Riga's population are Latvian and 38% speak Russian as their mother tongue. As it receives tens of thousands of tourists each month, the city speaks year by year more and better English, which is becoming the third common language for the people who walk its pedestrian streets and in search for its monuments.
Riga may be relatively small, but big on architectural styles. Most of Riga's attractions are in the Old Town, including mainly administrative buildings, churches, observation towers and houses built in the Art Nouveau style. Riga's public parks between the old town and the rest of the city provide a good opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere and events of the parks all year round.
Reasonable price level and varied selections of shopping and restaurants makes Riga a perfect city for a short break. Finnair offers round trip flights to Riga for less than 100 euros and you may find accommodation for two persons from 25 euros upwards in some internet platforms such as Booking.
Saint Petersburg is Russia's second largest city after Moscow, with 5 million inhabitants. The city is also known as the Venice of the North or the Russian Venice by its structure built on water and its strongly European-inspired architecture combined with the Russian heritage.
There are a lot of amazing things to see in St. Petersburg. The most important sights are right at the heart of Nevsky Prospekt and closest to the area from the Winter Palace to the Fontanka River.
Located on the shores of the river Neva, the Winter Palace was for a long time a winter residence for the Tsar and other royal guests. Nowadays, the palace includes some of the enormous art collections of the Hermitage.
Other must-to-see places in St. Petersburg are Alexander Nevsky Monastery, the Peter and Paul Fortress, Saint Isaac`s Cathedral and Church of the Savior on Blood.
The best way for a short visit to the Russian Venice is a 72 hours visa free cruise by M/S Princess Anastasialla. From Helsinki you may find cheap cruises, starting from 70 euros per person. To be able to enjoy the visa free option, you also need to have a shuttle bus ticket for the city tour.
A view of Vyborg from the boat. Photo: Foreigner.fi.
Another interesting trip to Russia is to take a visa free cruise from Lappeenranta to Vyborg along the Saimaa Canal.
The total length of the canal is 42.9 km. The Finnish side is 23.3 kilometers long and the Russian side 19.6 kilometers. The total drop from the Saimaa to the Gulf of Finland is on average 75.7 meters and it is staggered by eight locks, with drop heights ranging from 5.5 meters to 12.4 meters.
The border has jumped back and forth around Vyborg for most of its history. In 1710 Peter the Great captured it from the Swedes. A century later it fell within autonomous Finland, since then the Finns have called it Viipuri. The Soviet Union took Vyborg in 1939, lost it to the Finns during WWII, and got it back again at the end of the war.
Vyborg's most popular attraction is the castle, which was restored in 2017. Also the Vyborg Old Town with its many markets, both indoors and outdoors, is worth a visit. Due to the low rate of the ruble, you can make a wide variety of purchases at affordable prices.
A round trip with M/S Carelia Lappeenranta-Vyborg-Lappeenranta, accommodation in a hotel with breakfast, travel guide services and transport to the hotel costs about 150 euros per person.
Located on the Mediterranean Sea, with 104,573 inhabitants, Alanya is the Turkey's most popular holiday destination. The average temperature there in July is 32 degrees.
Alanyas Cleopatra’s Beach and Damlatas Beach are the best places to sunbathe, swim and enjoy the beach life. Sun loungers are reasonably priced, and views of the fort and the rest of Alanya's surroundings are staggering.
There are stalls on the beach where you can get food and bars that serve cocktails. There is also some activity for the children on the beach and there are tennis courts and other recreational activities nearby.
Other options to enjoy your holiday in Alanya is to play tennis or try the Turkish bath. Also various boating tours are common on the Turkish coast and it is a good option to go by boat to explore the caves of this beautiful region, waterfalls and other wildlife. In the summer, Alanya has also very lively nightlife.
You may find a 7 day package holidays to Alanya for less than 400 euros per person including the flights and hotel.
Copenhagen – Malmö
For the fans of The Bridge it may be interesting to visit the most emblematic places of this famous series.
With more than 770,000 inhabitants, the capital of Denmark is the most exotic place to visit in the Nordic countries. In Copenhagen you can enjoy the best of both the Nordic and Western Europe.
Near the city center, Slotsholmen Island offers many attractions. The most significant buildings in the area are the Christiansborg Palace. There are several beautiful churches in Copenhagen, both in the center and elsewhere, and a few towers give you a possibility to observe the city from a bird's eye view.
Copenhagen's popular and world-famous Tivoli is located right at the heart of the city. Today, this world's second oldest amusement park it is also an important concert and event venue.
You must not forget to visit the old port Nyhavn, located next to Kongens Nytorv Metro Station and of course the famous Little Mermaid on the seashore of the central Churchill Park.
Best (or at least the cheapest) way to travel from Copenhagen to Malmö is by bus. You may find tickets for even 4 euros. The famous Øresund or Öresund Bridge is a combined railway and motorway bridge between Sweden and Denmark. The bridge runs nearly 8 kilometres from the Swedish coast to the artificial island Peberholm, in the middle of the strait.
With almost 340,000 inhabitants, Malmö is the largest city of the Swedish county of Skåne and the third-largest city in Sweden. Malmö has nice restaurants and cafes, especially in the old town of Gamla Staden and its Lilla torg headquarters. Malmö is also an interesting shopping destination and a multicultural city. More than 50% of its population has foreign origin.
You may find Finnair flights to Copenhagen or Malmö for less than 50 euros. Accommodation for two persons in these popular cities may cost almost 100 euros per night.